Supreme Court Limits Voting Rights Law

03.10.09 | FL News Team

States are not obligated to redraw electoral lines to assure a minority victory if minorities do not make up the bulk of the area's population. That is the word from the Supreme Court, which reigned in the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act by a 5-4 vote on Monday.

At issue was a North Carolina voting district that lost black residents after the 2000 census. During redistricting, state lawmakers tried to put together an area with 39-percent African-American voters and a narrow margin of progressive whites. The coalition succeeded in electing an African American to the state's General Assembly.

However, the boundaries crossed over county lines, which is a no-no under North Carolina's constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the so-called crossover district. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, saying the area's black population must cross the 50-percent threshhold for the state to have to safeguard their voting rights.

Justice David Souter wrote the minority opinion arguing the ruling would create more pressure to design black or Latino-only districts, rather than having minorities and whites learn to forge alliances.